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MetroCast Communications, which provides cable television to most of St. Mary’s County, is converting to an all-digital system by early November, meaning that older televisions will require a free digital adapter to keep channels where viewers are used to seeing them.

Those who have digital televisions or use digital converters already will be unaffected by the change. But those with a cable plugged directly into an older television will notice changes when the system starts to convert.

“If it still has a tube you need a DTA” — a standard definition digital terminal adapter, said Kathleen MacLeod, regional marketing manager for MetroCast. Up to two DTAs, or lesser-used cable cards, will be supplied to households at no cost for the transition, she said. The digital terminal adapter goes between the cable coaxial connection and the television.

It comes with a remote control, which will be necessary to change channels.

MetroCast’s transition will start around Sept. 25 and will take about six weeks, MacLeod said. “We take a chunk of channels and we start to digitize them,” she said, rather than doing them all at once. Moving to an all-digital system gives the company more space to add bandwidth for expanded services.

“We are excited to provide our customers with state-of-the-art, all-digital programming lineup,” said Bernard Hazelwood, MetroCast general manager, in a statement. “The conversion to digital will provide superior picture and sound quality, as well as, more bandwidth for future enhancements, including the launch of more [high definition] channels, more video on demand, faster Internet speeds and new advanced products and services.”

Televisions manufactured in 2006 and afterward are digital compliant, MacLeod said.

“Most people in St. Mary’s County already have digital equipment,” she said. For those who have pre-2006 televisions, “you’ll still be able to receive basic and expanded basic” cable, she said. However, “the lineup will be different.” For example, Channel 2 will be at some other number.

So if a viewer doesn’t make any changes to their older equipment, they will still get their channels, just in a different lineup.

MetroCast customers may call the company at 800-633-8578 to find what equipment they need to prepare for the conversion, or to find if digital adapters are needed. Digital terminal adapters are available for pick up at the MetroCast office on Airport View Drive in Hollywood.

MetroCast has three franchises in Maryland and about 200,000 subscribers all together in the eastern United States, with about 25,000 customers in St. Mary’s County, MacLeod said.

Customers can learn more about the digital transition at www.metrocast.com/dta.

jbabcock@somdnews.com